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Recs. for Cheap Eats - Student new to S.F.

Need recs. for a friend's son who just started college in S.F..

Cheap student budget.......any type of cuisine........Mexican, Chinese, Burgers, breakfast diners etc......
He has a car and does not mind driving for cheap eats.....

Attending San Francisco State.


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  1. No such thing as a free lunch..

    Well not true at Hard Knox Cafe in Dog Patch area. Located on 3rd street/22nd street. They offer free lunch on Thursdays. I was picking up my taxes from my CPA's office and noticed this place was very busy around 1:00 PM yesterday. I learned they do free lunches on Thursday, homemade style food- yesterday it was beef stew, cornbread and cucumber salad.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Lori SF

      Free lunch in the old sense that you have to buy a beer?

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        it's lunch time and the MUNI drivers were in there so I would imagine you don't need to buy a beer.

    2. Same question was asked last month, so far it has 41 responses:


      1. Mr. Chan's in Daly City is the perfect spot. Really, really cheap food that is actually good. $2.50 specials such as salt & spicy pork chop with egg fried rice. A big plate of chicken fried rice filled with lots of chicken is also $2.50. You get a bowl of soup for free if you eat there. It's not far from SF State, less than a 5 minute drive. It's on Mission several blocks for John Daly Blvd.

        Victor's Bakery on Taraval between 17th and 18th is great to pick up Chinese pastry for cheap. You can get a ham and egg bun for $0.75. One or two of those is good for breakfast. Get a few more if for lunch.

        1. Sorry, but I wouldn't call Lo Cubano a cheap restaurant. Maybe there are items on the menu that aren't expensive, but I looked at their menu and remember thinking it was no great bargain.

          2 Replies
          1. re: niki rothman

            I agree, it's relatively expensive for an espresso bar / cafe. For the $7 they charge for a sandwich you could get two banh mi.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              The student should start learning what neighborhoods tend not to have cheap restaurants - and that area, and north of there, is definitely among the more expensive in SF.

          2. I suggest a trip to Taravel and 19th Ave. (and head eastward). He'll find a inexpensive Chinese, some Vietnamese, a couple of old fashion greasy spoons. Other then that it depends on where he lives (on campus on in the City) or path of travel.

            1. I suggest he start with the Students list at UCSF.

              Many updates and I tend to find unknowns at this site.

              1. Seems to me there was a post on this very subject to which I responded at length within maybe the last week or a few days more. Check it out. Actually, if for some reason you can't find it, I'll do my good deed for the day, Valencia Pizza and Pasta (19th.st.) is my fave cheap restaurant these days - it's all good. Especially the best lamb shanks I've ever eaten.

                1. Tani's Kitchen in Westlake Shopping Center at 32 Park Plaza Dr in Daly City just south of SFSU. We went there when we were attending SFSU in '93. Good, cheap food. All my friends liked it.

                  1. Taiwan on Clement has a great ratio of quality to price, IMO. Also, I would generally look to Chinese bakeries as great options for super-cheap meals.